London: Eight female players were reportedly disqualified from the London Olympics after four doubles teams attempted to throw matches to secure a more favourable draw later in the tournament.
The players involved in Tuesday’s matches were China’s world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari and two South Korean pairs – Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min Jung.
Spectators at the Wembley Arena shouted abuse and jeered at the players amid farcical scenes as the teams deliberately sprayed shots and duffed serves into the net to concede points.
“The Chinese sports delegation take the incident in the women’s badminton doubles very seriously,” state news agency Xinhua quoted an unnamed spokesman as saying. “After the delegation’s leadership learnt about it, they immediately tasked the relevant people with an investigation.”
The Chinese Olympic Committee has always advocated the fostering of the Olympic spirit on the playing field as well as the spirit of fair and just competition. China “opposes any behaviour or acts which contravene this spirit or sports morality for any reason or in any form”, the report added.
South Korea head coach Sung Han-kook said his two pairings attempted to throw their matches against China’s world champion duo and the Indonesians but added it was in retaliation against the Chinese team who instigated the situation.
He said the Chinese deliberately tried to throw the first of the tainted matches to ensure their leading duo of Yu and Wang would not meet the country’s number two pair until the gold medal decider.
“So we did the same. We didn’t want to play the South Korean team again (in the knockout stages).” Yu and Wang ended up losing to Jung and Kim 21-14 21-11 after a referee warned both teams they could be disqualified. The first game’s longest rally contained four shots.
Players were jeered as they left the arena, the result putting Yu and Wang on the other side of the draw to their compatriots.
China’s long-serving head coach Li Yongbo denied anything was amiss when cornered by Reuters at the venue.
Yu, who won doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Games with partner Du Jing, said she and Wang eased off to conserve their strength for the later stages.
Boos again rang out later in the evening session as the match between South Koreans Ha and Kim and Indonesians Polii and Jauhari repeated the same farcical scenario.
With spectators yelling “get off”, another referee emerged and waved a black card, indicating both teams were disqualified, prompting a roar of approval from the stands.
However, the referee rescinded the decision moments later after coaches from both teams implored the contest be allowed to continue and Ha and Kim ended up as reluctant winners in three sets.
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